Jonathan Maberry is real hit or miss for me. I like the Joe Ledger series even though I generally hate his writing style. But I still keep giving him a chance. This book won the Bram Stoker Award so I thought I was in for something good here. If this is what they honor, then I don't actually get what the BSA is about.
Once again Maberry has about fifty million characters and we have to jump to all of their POVs. It didn't feel like there was any sort of cohesive story just random vignettes that pull together separately. It was all slow as hell. There were hints at horror elements, but not enough for there to be anything called horror, really. There was more of the human crime element.
Even the people that were obviously supposed to be the good protagonists weren't in my opinion. Everyone knew this guy Vic is beating on his 14-year-old stepson but no one does anything about it because Vic is friends with cops or some such nonsense. Our "hero" Crowe calls himself doing something by befriending the kid, Mike. On this night Mike had already gotten into an accident and was injured and Crowe knew that sending him home with his stepfather was a bad, dangerous idea but did it anyway because the Mayor told him to. When he leaves the kid to do the job he was tasked with and comes back to be told by a witness that Vic came to get Mike and full on punched him in the gut before tossing him in the car, Crowe was pissed. And that was about it. We're then treated to a very extended and graphic scene of Vic beating the ever-loving shit out of Mike. It was horrific and supposed to somehow be ameliorated because Mike realizes that Vic is nothing more than human during the beating? What the?
Back to Crowe and the very next thing he's thinking about getting home to his girlfriend and the meal she cooked him. That's when I was done with this book. There are no good guys in this story if they just let something like that go on and do nothing. He didn't even bother to go check on the kid! Then he realized said girlfriend was probably in trouble and that's all that mattered. Speaking of the girlfriend, the topper on my DNF was her running back to the farm where the killer who had kidnapped her and her family was instead of trying to get any sort of help.
I don't care about these characters at all. Except Mike and since he isn't getting help I can't stand to read/listen to more. I don't care about what's coming, if anything is coming because the whole thing has been boring as hell. And long as hell. I actually groaned out loud when I was halfway through because there was still another seven hours left! I tried, but it's not worth my time. I'm super disappointed. I was hoping to have a fun creepy/scary trilogy to get me through the rest of October.
ETA: I forgot to mention that the narrator was pretty awful as well. I actually ended up getting used to him eventually, but he was in no way good.
There is nothing worse than looking forward to reading a book—especially for a long time—only to not enjoy it when you finally do get to read it. It's even worse when it is so I unenjoyable you have to flounce it.
I have been wanting to read Love Overdue for quite some time since I love library/librarian stories. But between plot elements I hate and how unlikeable I found the characters—as well as reading spoilers about the end of the book—this story doesn't seem to be salvageable for me.
First, the plot entirely hinges on the hero (Scott) and heroine (D.J.) having gross stranger sex eight years ago. You all know how much I hate that. To make matters exponentially worse D.J. did it to ~not he like herself~. On spring break, dressed like a hooker complete with plexiglass heels (who even?), encouraged by her friends she went out to find a stranger to fuck. (Here are my thoughts on that.) And she was a virgin. Just, why would you . . . just, why? That will never make any sense to me. Sorry I'm not sorry that I'm never going to find that to be in any way empowering and not stupid.
And Scott. He apparently cheats on his girlfriend in having that fling. Not that I abide or forgive cheating in any way, shape, or form, but worse—it didn't just happen, he set out to cheat. In reading other reviews apparently he had some convoluted reason: to get better at sex to please his girlfriend. Uhm. What? No . . . wait, what? I get his girlfriend made him feel insecure through no fault of his, but still! How in the world does cheating make things better??
So this entire scenario is off-putting, unromantic, and gross on a few levels. But I probably could have dealt with it as usual if the characters were at all likeable to me.
With Scott, the book had barely started when we're told he had carried on a sexual relationship with a married woman for sometime after his divorce. Given context clues, it didn't sound as if the woman and her husband had an open marriage, which makes him a homewrecker and he had no guilt about this at all. Worse, he got divorced because his wife cheated on him. What would possess him to do the same to someone else? So, between this and the previous cheating I did not like him at all. Add in what other reviews have said about the way he thought about women, particularly D.J., later on in the book and he apparently reaches dudebro levels of douchey.
D.J. was more actively awful, at least when it came to Scott. She, deservedly, feels stupid and mortified over her actions eight years ago. Lucky for her, Scott doesn't recognize her. So she takes her prim librarian persona to an extra degree with him so he won't remember. For some weird reason she thinks her life will be destroyed if he does. Okay. But on the other hand she gets pissed at him for not remembering! What? She already acted like an ass the morning after back then when she fled without a word. Now she meets him again and treats him like crap. With outright disdain. Initially so as not to tip him off, but then she starts making up shit about him in her head that makes no sense. According to her, because he jumped into bed with a stranger he's a liar (I still can't work out how she came up with that one), and a player. Then adds on more thinking he's a bigot against the town's lesbian couple. At no point in time, at least not before I DNF'd, does it occur to her that maybe he was pretending to be something he's not that night, too. That maybe she doesn't know anything about the guy whose name she refused to even hear then let alone learn anything else about him. That maybe there is some history between him and the lesbian couple that precipitated his attitude toward them. (Granted, it is a bigoted little town, of course, but she was just looking for more ammunition to hate him for no reason. Turns out half of that couple was his ex-wife, and the other half is the woman with whom she cheated. And she did get wind of the married woman affair, but it only reinforced what she had already convinced herself of.) Her whole bitchy, dismissive demeanor toward Scott and her nonsensical judgment of him made me really dislike her, too.
At this point I'm not enjoying the book and I don't think it's going to get any better. The only thing I do like is D.J.'s dog, Mr. Melville Dewey. So I go and look at reviews and thank the Book Gods I did. Turns out the only reason to even attempt to push through the book—Scott finally realizing who she is, the big reveal, and working things out—is completely absent. Most reviews lament the sudden abrupt end when he realizes it's her and it cuts to an eight years later epilogue. The climax is entirely absent. What?! Why would you do that?!?! I . . . am SO happy I didn't waste my time finishing this book. I think everyone would have felt my indignant rage. On top of that, everything to do with Scott's mother, D.J.'s landlady/boss, is so utterly ridiculous I almost started beating my head against something hard just reading reviews! (She tries to commit suicide with a botulism pie?! WHAT ARE YOU I CAN'T EVEN!!!)
So, yes. One very emphatic and heartbreaking DNF for me. Dammit.
With the imminent release of the movie adaptation of that Twilight fan fiction people will not shut up about it and it seems like people are suddenly falling all over themselves to defend it and its writer. 'It's not her fault if people can't see it's abusive.' 'I don't like it but I can see what others see in it.' 'Abuse is NBD, people, jeez!' 'People just hate anything that elevates female sexuality!' Oh, God, you guys, can we please not?
You know, if this were an actual book I'd maybe feel that way as well. Hell, Twilight was a steaming pile of abusive crap and I was still able to find the fun in it. This, however, is a different story. There's nothing fun about this fic. There's nothing fun about the content or what it's done in the publishing industry.
1. This is fan fiction, not a book. One that is tied heavily to the source material and takes directly from it in many places. Really. Please don't lose sight of that fact.
This is not okay and should not be okay with anyone. Especially real authors who spend their time writing their own characters and stories. The slew of fanfics picked up by publishers in the wake of the success of this thing is not okay. Just think about your book or the books of writers who slogged their way through their own work sitting in slush piles on editors' desks or getting rejection letters while those editors are trolling fanfiction.net and AO3 for stories written from other people's work.
Even if you're going to forgive everything else wrong with this fanfic, if you are on board with how unethical and wrong this is please don't shrug it off.
2. This fic is not a romance. It's just not.
Also, the "hero" of Fifty Shades of Grey does something at the end that is not redeemable by romance novel standards. I won't spoil the story for the three people who haven't read it yet, but bottom line: Not a romance novel, not a romance hero. And that's not because of his BDSM tendencies -- you'll see why if you keep reading. –from here
And while there are a lot of books in the romance genre labeled as romance that are not romances this one is by far the worst because (well, it's not a book) it is so popular and so many people who don't read, and especially don't read the genre, think they are well versed on it because of this fic. Don't we have enough to deal with as romance readers without having people think this is what we read? Or having a bunch of people tell us what the genre is or isn't or should be based on this one fic? We should really all be completely insulted by that.
3. The general insult to BDSM. I was sick of BDSM before this thing got popular. Like with this fic a lot of times it's thrown in as something that has to be corrected for the characters to find their HEA. Or, it's poorly researched and poorly done. So the first insult is using BDSM to make money without having any respect for it. This fic takes it much further in that every practitioner of BDSM in it is a child molester, or mentally unstable, or deeply psychologically damaged. Then they must be fixed. Insult number two. There is only the mildest of kink. Like I can imagine people reading it going, "Wait, that's BDSM? Honey, did you know what we've been doing is BDSM?!" Insult number three. All the fans of this drivel who refuse to bother to find out what BDSM actually is but will attempt to shout down actual practitioners that this IS BDSM and 'what do you know?!' Insult number four. Then there is all the abuse. They were never within the confines of a safe, consensual, and sane BDSM relationship. The story just uses that term to cover up what he was doing as okay. It's not. Insult number five.
4. Speaking of abuse. There's liking something problematic and then there's trying to insist that it's not problematic, or even worse in this case, that it's okay because it's something that you don't understand. And another reason why it's so heinous to call this a romance. We're supposed to be moving away from abuse and rape as romance. You can dig a man who rapes a woman, tortures her without permission as punishment, and leaves bite marks and bruises all over her chest to prevent her from showing skin, but dear God, don't sully an entire book genre or lifestyle with it. It's funny, I remember all the people defending the abuse in Twilight, particularly because it was more insidious and thought maybe the next thing with more overt abuse would get people to understand. And now there's this fic and people are going out of their way to say it's okay. When, exactly, will it not be okay? Yeah, I guess I'm an "asshole" because I think we should be doing better as a society and a genre.
5. People can have problems with this fic without it being a ding on female sexuality. Hell, I don't want my sexuality tied to it in any way shape or form. Do you? By all means, if you see someone applying the "all" label to the genre or to women because of this fic then take them down. (Oh, and that mommyporn thing. That's just insulting to moms. No moms I know like this crap. And, shocker, moms can like well written erotica and actual visual porn, too!) But specific criticism of this fic and stories like it isn't inherently anti-female.
6. ELJ's behavior in fandom and as a *gag* popular "author". Just, ugh.
7. "New adult". Enough said.
8. General disgust for something so poorly written being so popular is totally okay, too. It is objectively bad on every level and we should definitely not shrug that off as okay either. Do we really want people thinking that producing something this bad is fine? Is that really the direction in which we want literature and publishing to go?
I'm not sure why there is so much positively toward this thing happening now, but this is definitely not one of those times where it's deserved. It especially perplexes me seeing it from real authors. All P2P and P2Pers should be ostracized from the real book community. Or maybe it's too much to think that there should be consequences for people's actions. Of course it is. I mean, how many books have I read that should have made the bajillions this woman has made from cobbling together other people's work and calling it her own? Anyway. I'm not going to take the finger-wagging. If you want to make all of this perfectly okay, that's your business but I am certainly not going to follow and I hope I'm not alone in that.
Posting this because I just remembered it and think you guys will love it as much as I did:
When Chase and Amanda first had sex (and keep in mind she was reticent to date him in the first place because of his ~playboy~ lifestyle) he pulls out the condom then says, 'I've always used one of these, but I don't want to with you. I promise I'm clean.'
. . .
. . .
. . .